Today is Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The impact of BP & Cabela's Merger

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Nashville's Bass Pro is the local store for a variety of hunting & fishing gear

What would happen if Bass Pro Shops-BP were to buy Cabela's? The truth is, we don't know. We can only speculate. It is almost a sure bet, such a merger would transform the hunting and fishing world somewhat for the consumer. But of major and in my opinion, of greater impact would be the effect on thousands of private lives.

Let us examine this a little closer.

The rumor first began circulating around the outdoor community in November 2015. Most of us gave it little attention because it seemed unlikely.

Then, a couple weeks ago, it began to heat up. It now looks like something is going to happen but it is unclear just what. Here is the situation as far as I know.

BP is not the only entity interested in buying Cabela's.

Reports are, other unnamed, buyout firms are also in the chase. There is some hesitancy from other firms because of the firearms aspect and the current political and legislative situation surrounding firearms.

No dollar amounts have been announced but although I do not claim to even understand what it means, total capitalization was put at $3.6 billion back in November.

I have no idea what it is now or just what it includes. Buying an operation such as Cabela's is a lengthy process. It may also include the sale of Cabela's, credit card business. I don't know.

Who will this affect? To put it simply, I would assume in some way, it will touch anyone who buys anything from either store.

And maybe in general. It could have an impact on pricing due to the elimination of a huge competitor and in the same vein, it could affect service.

Now, let me make something clear. I have done business with and have, in fact, in a small way, worked with both stores as a writer.

I have no real preference and am in no corner to support either. I get along well with the brass at both.

Let me tell you who is going to really be slammed, in fact is already being hurt. That is the town and people of Sydney, NE.

The population of that small town is said to be 6,800. Over one-third of them, 2,000, are employed by Cabela's.

It is their headquarters. Those poor people are hung out to dry right now. They cannot make a major decision, such as buying a house or car, not knowing how long or if they will have a job.

It seems highly unlikely, should the sale go through, BP would operate two headquarters.

Most likely, that would all be moved to BP headquarters in MO. The impact reaches further.

Bass Pro, founded by Johnny Morris in 1971, currently operates 100 stores in the U.S.

Cabela's, founded by the Cabela family in 1961, operates 80 stores.

Some of those stores overlap in coverage area. It seems certain the Cabela's stores would be phased out.

That results in more job losses and the elimination of buying competition for that area.

We do not have a Cabela's near us here. We have Bass Pro, Gander Mountain and others but no real competition for the die-hard hunter or fisherman.

Over the years, BP has emerged as the leader of the big box stores for the hunter and angler and most recently has become a force in the boat business. Both stores sell accessories. Think about the companies that sell boating accessories.

This is a big market and after-market business. Should the merger go through, one major market for them is eliminated. Now, carry that down to the hunting/angling product industry. In the world of outdoor products, for many manufacturers, if they are to stay in business, they must sell to the big box stores. Take away one of the major players and you can see how it trickles down to you and me.

Due mainly to the box stores, the day of the small, service oriented, mom and pop outdoor stores is just about gone.

They simply could not compete and now, the competition is threatening to get reduced again.

I'll try to keep you posted on any major happenings.

For us, this is not any more unusual that any major merger.

But make no mistake, down the line, we will feel it.

It is also possible, who knows, it may be a good thing for us. Or, it may not.

Contact the author at jsloan1944@gmail.com

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Bass Pro, Cabela's, John L. Sloan, Outdoors
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